No longer the same

Despite my denials and what some of my closest PC / Android friends say, I’m such an Apple fan.

I came to love Apple and their products from my time in university. Having witnessed DOS, Dbase and dot-matrix printers, I had sworn an oath to have nothing to do with computers. Till my lecturer convinced me to take a look at the GUI interface of the Macintosh LC II. My first question was, “Where’s the big ugly tower box?” That was the point really, there wasn’t any.

There was no looking back after that. And little reason to. Nearly two decades on, I can still say that I’ve never spent a dollar in purchasing a non-Apple computer; not HP, not Dell, not Toshiba, not even Sony. I’ve used them sure, but I’ve never had or felt any compelling reason to switch. Not even with the “World of Warcraft.”

And like most longtime Apple users, no matter how much I deny it to others or more importantly myself, I still have this warm fuzzy feeling of the company that made CPUs the size of cute pizza boxes when their competitors made dull grey towers. I still see the seven colors of that Apple logo even though Steve Jobs himself was clinical in changing that rainbow Apple to a monochrome color.

Apple has been trying for years now to tell everyone that they’re not the same company. I just haven’t been listening.

They lost the colors from the logo. They dropped the word “Computer” from the company name. They modernized the OS from the Classic Mac OS 7- 9 to the Unix based MacOS X (didn’t even want to use the number “10”). And in this latest build of Mac OS X “Lion”, they’ve actually dropped the word Mac from the name – it’s just OS X.

Of course I’m only pointing out the trivial bits. I haven’t even mentioned the business side of things. Since those rainbow colored days, Apple has grown from manufacturing just computers to making smartphones, MP3 players,  media and application ecosystems, and very soon, the most comprehensive cloud based solution. Apple is the most profitable handset manufacturer in the world; they still dominate the MP3 industry with the iPod; they continue to increase their market share in the computer realm while the rest of the industry sees decline by growing for 21 consecutive quarters; and their market cap has increased from over US$5 billion to more than US$350 billion in just over ten years. Should I even mention the iPad?

This is not the same company I used to pry out colored rainbow badges from obsolete Macs from.

Of course they still make amazing and arguable much better products. But they’re no longer an underdog. They’re a behemoth. They no longer have tiny market share, they monopolize part components like Flash memory so the rest of the world cannot compete with their quality and prices.

Every single remark in the late 90s began a laugh when I told people I bought Apple products. Today every single journalist seems to have a smirk remark ready when comparing Apple’s competitors to their products.

Sometimes I wonder when the tables turned so drastically. I wonder as a longtime Mac user how I feel about this. Is this what I cheered for? And I wonder if so much has changed about a company that brought so much to my geek life, how much is left for me to truly identify with – apart from those five letters spelling it’s name.

When, not if, Steve Jobs leaves, what do I identify Apple with? Maybe Jonathan Ive (designer of the Color Classic) but not much else, really. Like I said, it almost feels as if Apple themselves have been slowly weaning us longtime Mac users off this dreamy notion of this onetime pirate flagged company so that we would wake up and see it’s shiny new logos.

I think if you had asked me twenty years ago if I would have wanted Apple to be number one, to be the dominant player in so many areas, to have totally pawned Microsoft; you would have known my answer. Yet I sit and type this and can’t help feel a sense of sadness and nostalgia, perhaps the same way the first Beatles fans in The Cavern felt when they lost their band to the whole world.

Most of all, I miss my Oscar The Grouch animation whenever I have to empty the trash.

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